Senators finally occupy refurbished chambers

Nairobi, Kenya: Senators Tuesday formally occupied the refurbished chambers of Kenya's first Senate (1960s) and vowed to use their new space to fight for their rightful position as a legislative and oversight body.

The senators, who appeared excited, described the new debating chamber as a true reflection of the 'Senate', saying it restored their esteem as the vanguards of devolution. They took the opportunity to demand respect, especially from their National Assembly colleagues, who have in the past appeared to belittle them.

Senators criticised National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi, whom they accused of entrenching the culture of undermining the legislative role of the upper House.

Speaker Ekwe Ethuro warned that Senate exists not due to the generosity of an individual but because Kenyans wanted it.

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"The Senate was deliberately created by the people of Kenya as an organ of the national government to perform specific functions, especially to be the guardian angel of devolution," he said.

He said some people were "stuck in the mindset of unicameralism", adding that they had failed to understand and appreciate the essence of bicameralism. Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow urged the Speaker to ensure that Kenyans were educated on the essence of bicameralism.

And Baringo Senator Gideon Moi accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of assenting to two Bills that were enacted unprocedurally.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen said occupation of the chamber has shortened the distance between the two Houses.

Senate National Assembly Ekwe Ethuro